Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Art is dirty

Hands With Graphite 

My hands after a recent studio session where I was using powdered graphite in some new works on paper. They looked like this after using gloves, I should say. I don't care about my hands getting dirty because making art is a messy business, if anything, I welcome the mess. The thing about using powdered anything to make work is that the dust can get everywhere. The majority of my work has been with liquid-based mediums for years, with the exception of using charcoal and pencils, of course. The last time I used pastels was over 20 years ago. 

I used a mask with the graphite powder. However, I was still surprised by the amount of blackened sweat that I wiped away from my face and head while I was working. I found out later, while cleaning up for the day, that every exposed part of my body was covered in a film of graphite dust. Some research I've done has shown that long-term inhalation of carbon dust can be harmful to the lungs of course. However, I'm keeping my exposure limited with masks, using small amounts of the graphite powder and not snorting it up with old, rolled up drawings. I'm sometimes more scared of what I'm breathing in on a daily basis when I'm out in the streets. 
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